Monday, December 14, 2009

Sweater Update

We finished Tucson's half marathon yesterday! My time was only seconds over two hours, and if I hadn't needed to stop midway for a bathroom break, I would have actually been under the two hour mark. James and I both finished at about the same time, which was waaay faster than I thought we would do. I think a combination of race-day excitement plus the fact that it was 95% downhill led to a fast race. The downhill bit led to some soreness too. As soon as the race was over and I slowed to a walk, I realized I was unable to walk properly. Right now I'm feeling a bit like an invalid (a fierce invalid), and James is making me breakfast, so I thought I would blog.

Remember the sweater that I am making? I am so excited about it. I totally scratched the original pattern and am coming up with something completely different. I was sitting in class the other day and the girl in front of me had a sweater on that was short-sleeved, v-necked, and had a horizontal lace panel across the back shoulders. I decided I loved the way the sweater looked, but I am making a few changes. Mostly, my ideas will make the sweater less complicated to construct, but I am still planning to keep the idea of a lace portion on the back of the sweater. We'll see how it goes. I'm not there yet, but almost. Here is the sweater so far:

I'm working on a few ideas for the lace part. This is one of the ideas. Unfortunately, the picture is very shadow-y, so you can't see the lace as well as I would have liked.

I haven't worked on much else knitting-wise since I last posted. But I'll keep you updated. I am looking forward to Christmas!


PS. What have you been working on lately? How is your owl sweater? I would love to see some of your recent knitting creations. They are always beautiful.

PPS. Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

I tried black Friday shopping for the first time today. I took about two steps into Walmart and then turned around and left. I forgot I don't like holiday shoppers.

The mall, however, was empty. I was surprised by this, but after some consideration, I surmised that our town's entire population must be at Walmart today, leaving the mall essentially free from shoppers. I bought a pair of shoes.

I don't usually shop at our mall, because it has very few stores in it that you would recognize, and mostly it's full of poor-fitting teenage fashions. The last time I was at the mall, I was trying to find a pair of jeans. I think I stopped at every single store that sold jeans (we have a small mall), and ended up leaving empty-handed. It occurred to me later that every pair of jeans I tried on were not really jeans. They were stretch jeans, which in my opinion are not really jeans at all.

One store I stopped at today was full of wild sweaters with fascinating shapes and cables. I spent some time looking at them and wondering about their construction. What interested me about this store is that it was full of synthetic, plastick-y fabrics (which, whatever. That's fine, I have worn plenty of acrylic sweaters). But the weird thing was that it was also selling one lone cashmere sweater along with everything else.

Is this a testament to the recent availability of cheap cashmere? Or maybe. Maybe the average person wouldn't recognize that most other materials in this store were cheaply-produced. Mostly, I just like the juxtaposition of cashmere surrounded by synthetic.

PS. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and are enjoying the leftovers.

PPS. The BEST place to shop on the day after Thanksgiving is the grocery store. No crowds. Best time to shop ever.

PPPS. I had to rip back my sweater already. Waaay too many increases in the pattern. If I had continued, it would have swallowed me whole.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

must . . . finish run . . . so I can knit

Everything still hurts. Even my toes. Which, apparently, is a motivation to keep knitting.

I think I told you that James and I are training to run a half marathon this December. I'm a newbie at running, and I'm sure I'm still slow, but we're working on adding the miles rather than the speed. Generally I've been running in the mornings and James has been running in the evenings, but this weekend, I decided to wait for him to come home from work for us to run together. Which meant that we were running nine miles at noon, with the sun at its zenith. Now, we may be having the same lows as Iowa right now, but our highs are in the 70s. Which isn't even that hot! So I don't know what happened, but the sun was beating on us, we didn't have water, and our run--which should have lasted 90 minutes--took over two hours.

We stopped at three places to try to find water. The first place we stopped was a church, and although I couldn't find a drinking fountain inside, we let Dutch drink out of the decorative fountain at the foot of three metal crosses. I finally found water for us by sneaking into a hotel and looting cups from their breakfast nook.

Finally, with water in us, we completed the run. I swear to you today, I will only run when it is cooler than forty degrees outside. Well, maybe some exceptions to that, but never never again when the sun is so high in the sky.

I thought maybe I would get some work done this weekend, but I was so sore that I didn't want to move ever again. So I forgot about research and started a sweater instead. In my opinion, knitting is almost always a better use of time than school work. So that's what I did.

PS. I finished the shrug with your yarn. Actually, I think I told you that, didn't I? Anyway, I'll post a picture once I have James around during the day time.

PPS. It was good seeing you. Have a happy Thanksgiving.


Friday, October 23, 2009

don't stop

Hi K,

You know, I really love knitpicks needles, but the cabley ones just keep on breaking on me. Those dang cables slip out of the tips right in the middle of a row, and all your stitches come out, and you're left with wanting to knit and nothing to knit with. Very sad. And, as of recent, they only make double pointed needles in sizes US 4+ in 8 inches long. Which is too long for double pointed needles, if you ask me.

I'm going to try to show you something. When I was in Vermont, this last summer, I had dyed some Cascade 109 before I left, because I had this sudden urge to knit a pair of chunky cabled mittens that are all the rage on Ravelry right now called Bella's mittens. Here's the back story as much as I understand it on these mittens.

There's this blood disease called porphyria cutanea tarda, where if the patients go out in the sun, their skin gets horrible blisters. Their blood also destructs, or hemolyses, so they need blood replacement. *These people spawned a race called the vampires, which even though the diseased people they sprang from probably didn't live forever, they did. The vampires were all really really good looking and hot. One day somebody named Bella fell in love with one of the Vampires. She was apparently able to change into a lamb at will, which is why she had these mittens, because she could produce her own wool for the yarn. She liked to eat apples with the mittens on but I don't recommend this because that might get the mittens sticky.

Anyhow, I arrived** and I started knitting these mittens. Now, let me tell you, there is a reason so many people have knitted these mittens: it's somewhat addicting.

Now, you might be able to tell from this picture that I've knit, ahem, three pairs of these. Almost. I'm on the last pair. So I finished the first pair, and then I took a field trip out to Kaleidoscope Yarns in Essex Junction, which is really a lovely shop. Such nice Malabrigo Chunky, which I though would be really good for knitting maybe another scarf and a pair of these mittens. So, I knit the second blue pair that's squished in the middle, and fiddled with the pattern a bit.

Wow. I. Love. Malabrigo Chunky. It's such smooth, lovely knitting. Very, very nice. I decided I couldn't end our relationship there. So I ganked two of the lime skeins of yarn from the previously to-be scarf and started another pair of mittens.

Until that is, I arrived at the O'Hare International Airport. I learned a few things going through O'Hare that day. If you wear a nice dress, security will complement you and let you through easier. If you're planning on waiting it out with knitting, bring extra yarn. If you wear a nice dress, store a hairbrush, some toothpaste, and a change of clothes in your carry on for when your flight gets canceled.

Because I ran out of yarn right at the tips of the mittens, I stalled. I couldn't go any further, even when I got home. And now the mittens are right there, where you see them.

Almost done.

Sob. So close.


*This is called sarcasm, by the way.

**Not in the same place as Bella the vampire-loving lamb/woman but in Vermont. Unless she was in Vermont.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


The giant house spiders are back. Giant as in, I saw a small tarantula this summer the size of one of these spiders. Plus, black widows to boot. We found a black widow spider outside of our front door, and then a second one the following night. The next day I saw a piece of styrofoam that looked like it could be a giant egg sack, and I sprayed it to death with spider-killing spray. I think I'm getting hyper-sensitive about the spiders.

Remember this bug? Insects can be scary when they're in places they don't belong. Like houses. Or cars.

I hope Iowa is scary-insect free for you.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

practice makes glove-perfect

Aren't these so much fun?
Sometimes the perfect pair of gloves takes multiple trials and errors to get it just right. This project had its origins over a year ago. Last last May, my aunt-in-law sent me a knitting book for my birthday on Latvian Mittens. I read it, and contemplated, and over the summer I ordered some yarn for what I thought would be the perfect project. Only, the colors that I saw when I opened my package were not exactly as I had interpreted them online; so much so that I abandoned all hope of using the yarn (at least on the intended project). Which just goes to show you that there's no substitute for seeing true colors in true person.

So then I decided, I can't fail too miserably in my color choices if I pick just two colors to work with. I happened to have enough yarn lying around in blue and white fingering and so I cast on for some lovely Latvian mittens. I'm still pleased about the color choice (lovely shade of blue), but not so pleased about the mittens-in-progress. Or should I say, mittens-that-will-never-be. Simply put, they're far too small. And I'm not pleased with this thumb gusset either. But most disheartening, is the fact that the pattern repeat ends far too soon, forcing the mitten to either be stumpy short or strangely patterned. Or, more likely, never finished. At the end of this, I'm not particularly interested in salvaging the project. It's just too tiresome. As you can see, I've already slipped the needles off to start up another project; I just didn't have the heart to unravel it all yet. If I knit a project out of this book (which I will, eventually--I just need some time to heal), it will be a different pattern, different color scheme, different yarn. The book is great, I just didn't seem to be able to plan well enough to pull it off.

Now, after all that, I still wanted a success, so I kept a tiny piece of hope alive, and lo and behold, some kind knitting individual came along, wrote up a free pattern, and even posted requirements for the exact yarn that was to be used. Although I don't think these are Latvian, it's still a similar concept, and it has taught me quite a bit about color selection simply from working the pattern. Amazing. Finally, a success story.

And even better, I found a way to make knitting gloves enjoyable. I turned the fingerless mittens into gloves, and it was all possible due to these itsy bitsy double pointeds that don't drive me crazy with their absurd length.
And thus, more than a year after my scheming began, I have finished two gloves. Two lovely, colorful, warm gloves. I think my aunt-in-law will enjoy these. And even if she protested that the other ones were just fine and that anything I made her would be just fine, I know in her heart, she was secretly hoping that I would knit her these very gloves.

Tell Archimedes hello from me!

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Arizona's medical school is starting classes this week, which seems absurdly early compared to the rest of the university. I still have three full weeks to soak in the sun and take some time for myself. As well as contemplate the new course that I will be teaching. LaKeisha and I have a new TA position in which we will be leading a supplemental instruction course for minority students in general chemistry. It's refreshing because it's new, and it's exciting because we are being given almost free reign to develop our own course. We'll be following the content covered in the lecture, but our supplemental instruction will include additional practice and training as to how to best learn general chemistry.

As I have been contemplating this new course, I ran across a book that I read while in high school. It had a couple of chapters devoted to the scientific process and scientific explanations. I found most intriguing the following passage:

“If a scientific theory makes successful predictions, and if it does not conflict with other well-established theories, and if it makes no false predictions, then, whatever its shortcomings, it is true.” (pg 77)

I find this passage infinitely fascinating. What is truth, really? What is a scientific truth? There are models we use in chemistry that help us to understand and predict the nature of atomic particles. If these models are useful, is that sufficient grounds to necessitate them being ‘truthful’ as well? I don’t actually know what to think about this, but it’s been tumbling around in my mind. Can truth be subjective? Must it be always absolute?

A few months ago I participated in a retreat focusing on evolution (due the occasion of it being Darwin’s 200th birthday). In fact, I found that I learned more biology during this weekend event than I have ever remembered learning in previous years (which may not be something to brag about, but it was a very interesting weekend). Having a limited understanding of evolution prior to this, I was surprised to find that the idea is really quite reasonable and easy to comprehend. Yet for some reason, it is framed in staunch controversy between “religious” and “scientific” minds so that one might be led to believe that there is no middle ground.

But if the scientific theory of evolution is able to produce accurate predictions concurrent with our observations of the natural world, is it not worth learning and utilizing? Does that lend it “truthfulness?” Some may have philosophic differences that make it difficult to reconcile evolution and religion. But if it is useful in the context of science, why not give it a try?

It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to say that a person “believes” in evolution or that they “believe” in science. Rather, we should use science as a tool to make discoveries, predictions, and engineer new technology. So what is “truth” and what bearing does it have on science? Is there an a priori truth? How do we know what we know?

I certainly don’t know what the "answer" is, but I would love to start a conversation, possibly in this new course. I love to listen to and participate in heated, rational debates. Those are my favorite. And whenever possible, why not tie it into something as exciting as science?

Take care,


Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Little Owl Travels


Hey! You went found somewhere in your state you love, that's pretty awesome. I just wanted to let you know that while I'm here in Burlington, Vermont, my little knitted owl, Archimedes wanted to start his own blog! I've been typing it for him, since he doesn't type so quickly. But he's pretty excited about it.

You should check it out.

A Little Owl Travels


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sweet Jesus, how did this end up in the middle of NM?

I went camping in New Mexico last weekend. Up in the rocky mountains, in Lincoln National Forest, where it is green, lush, humid, and cold all year round. Where there are birch trees, crocuses, irises, columbine, and wild strawberry plants. Normal plants! And elk! At our campsite! Can I just say how much I miss nature? It was a haven of beauty surrounded by the total desolation that is the southwest. I have no idea how it is possible for NM to stake a claim to something so beautiful--it was completely out of character for the state.

And how much more amazing is a national forest than a national park? Oh so great. For one, we were able to bring Dutch with us onto our campsite and onto the trails. At many of the national parks that I have been to, you are made to feel like a tourist. You are overwhelmed as much by the many throngs of vacationers as you are by the beauty of the park. The trails are paved and overrun with people, and there is not the solitude of nature that perhaps you came to enjoy. At a national forest, there is no entrance fee, you are less likely to encounter another person on the trails, and it seems overall more wilderness-y and primitive. I spent my childhood visiting different national and state parks, and I want to say that this forest was the best of them all . . . Most likely, however, that would be my nature-deprivation speaking to me and altering my impartiality. Oh, to get out of Arizona and see some green again.

You can't really camp in Arizona, at least where I am. For one, I don't really care to set up camp in the desert. And for another, there are too many illegals and drug smugglers for it to be safe. Where we live, we are surrounded by mountains and national forest (although how this actually constitutes a forest, I'm not exactly sure--it's more scraggly bushes than trees). Yet these mountains taunt me, for I am not about to go hiking alone in the desert, even if I bring Dutch with me. And of course James, who hikes around all the time, then comes home and does three different workouts each day, doesn't always have the motivation to chaperone my hiking. Which is quite understandable. That's not to say that we don't explore the mountains, it's just that we have to find a time when our weekends coincide.

In any case, we had a marvelous time camping, cooking over a fire, and finding out that Dutch is a thoroughly domesticated dog that is afraid of the dark. He is still recouperating from the weekend and I suspect he will be sleeping this entire week. Unfortunately, as you may have noticed, there are no pictures on this post documenting the beautiful nature. It seems that I accidently left the camera at home and therefore you will have to use your imagination to picture this oasis.

I did want to say, thank you for the birthday package. It was joy after joy, and the yarn is squishy beautiful amazing-ness. I want to knit with it immediately, but I have to admit, I am having a hard time focusing on finding a project for myself. I haven't done that in a while, and it's taking some discipline, but I think I have a couple of ideas in mind. I also thought you should know, when I took out the yarn, James smelled it to see if it smelled like kool-aid.

Hope you are enjoying a lush and nature-filled summer! When are you going to VT? You know, the king arthur flour company is located there. Lots of yumminess if it's in your area.

Take care!

ps. In the book I am re-reading, one of the characters has a job being paid to listen to vacationers re-tell of their adventures and sift through their copious amounts of pictures. The vacationer doesn't want to risk losing a friendship by boring their acquaintances with accounts of their travels, and so they pay someone else to listen to the entire story. I am crossing my fingers that you are not similarly bored by the reminiscence of my trip, or at least not enough to damage our friendship. At least I didn't make you look through all my pictures.

Friday, May 15, 2009

toy hermit

There's a reason why I always knit in the round. And it is not because I particularly care for double-pointed needles. In fact, I find double-pointeds somewhat awkward to knit with, particularly considering I have to take care that I don't leave a gap in stitches between the needles. On the other hand, not knitting in the round would be far worse. As you know, I find finishing projects to be the least pleasant part of knitting. Which is why I avoid seams at all cost. At all cost! And it has occurred to me at certain points in my knitting career that I not only find seaming projects to be un-enjoyable, but I don't find that I am particularly good at it either. It is also likely that each of these observations explains the other.

As I was finishing up my hermit crab this morning, I was thinking to myself that there must be a better way to do this. I am sure that there is a way to piece this all together that is a bit more systematic. And maybe a way that makes it look a little cleaner. Did you notice that I-cord around the circumference of the shell? That's something I added. A little aesthetic addition? Well, yes. But it's mostly to hide the botched job I did of stitching on the hermit's head.

It seems to me that with knitted toys, it is particularly important to get the finishing done well. It is partly this finishing that gives the toy its character--the position of a certain appendage or the stitches on the face can completely change the character of the toy. And particularly with this pattern, because it is so brilliant, I want to do it justice.

On the other extreme, I was at a store earlier this month, where they were selling a number of hand-knit toys. It looked like the wool was unevenly hand-spun, and the entire toy smelled delightfully of lanolin. But the best part about these toys was that they were roughly pieced together. It wasn't the precision that made them stand out. It was the earthy, rough-hewn imperfection of the projects that made them seem all the more imaginative.

I don't know how this reflects my own knitted hermit crab, but I guess in the end, he didn't turn out too shabby. I did really enjoy making his shell. And I am quite certain that its recipient will love him no matter what--which is probably the best part. But until next week--when I say goodbye to the hermit--this crab is sticking with me, and we are going to have many adventures together.

Happy knitting,

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I've got crab!

Whenever James and I get together with his friends from work, I feel like I am part of a stereotype. Which isn't necessarily bad; it just amuses me how fifties-ish it feels. For example, last evening we went to a friend's house for a cookout. Once everyone had arrived, the guys all went outside to start the grilling. As far as I can tell, their conversation revolved around work and sports and working-out and other "manly"-type things. The wives, on the other hand, all segregated themselves in the living room. Everyone except for me had brought along an infant or a toddler, and our conversation revolved around teething and school and fussy eaters.

I brought my knitting along, to work on a simple project, and the girls told me that once I had kids I wouldn't have time to knit. And I thought to myself, ha! That's what the graduate adviser told me before I started grad school, and look at me now! Knitting away . . .

I took a break this weekend from studying for my oral exam to work on this hermit crab. He's just in pieces right now, but hopefully soon he'll be a real, live, whole hermit crab. A girl in my research group is having her baby any day now, and I thought a knitted toy would be a fun way to celebrate a tiny new person. Hopefully I'll find the time (and patience) to piece him all together before the imminent big day.

Take care,

Monday, April 20, 2009

The most pointless day ever

Have you ever had any of those days where you think to yourself, what was the point? Why did I even bother? Sometimes I feel this way with my knitting when I realize I need to rip back and start completely over. Or when I finish a sweater for my mom and then realize that it's just a tad too small and that she will never wear it. Or, listen to this.

James and I were going to fly to Minneapolis this weekend to go to a funeral. We left our house at 7am on Friday to drive to the airport. Flew to Denver for a layover. Everything fine so far. I took great note of the fact that there appeared to be grass near the runway. A plus for Colorado. The sky was also overcast, not something I'm used to seeing. (By the way, are you still thinking about CO as a final living destination? James and I spend quite a lot of time making plans for the future, and they change drastically from week to week, but I'm keeping CO in mind whenever I think of the next few years)

Our connecting flight was late arriving at the gate. This began to get annoying, as we thought about the fact that we were spending less than 24 hours in Minnesota, and it would be nice to make our flight soon. When the plane finally did come in, we were informed by the passengers that they had hit a bird during their take-off and sometime during their flight they had also been hit by lightening. . . Some time later we learned that our flight was canceled. You may be able to imagine why.

Following was a long wait at the customer service desk. There was another flight leaving for MN that evening, but by the time that we reached the front of the line the flight was full. So there was no way we were going to make the funeral the following morning. Plus it had started blizzarding outside and we were worried about more flights being canceled. We decided take the 6 pm flight back to AZ--which we just barely made before the plane left the gate.

However, blizzarding continued and de-icing failed. So we were told that we would be waiting on the runway until the snow abated.

I feel that I have to mention at this point that the airplane seats were the most uncomfortable seats that I have ever sat in. They were concave, which simply did not lead to proper or comfortable posture.

As you can imagine, it was quite a wait on the runway for the snow to pass. Eventually the skies cleared up, but it wasn't time to celebrate yet. Because we learned at this point one of our engines had failed and that we had to be towed back to the terminal so that someone could look at the engine. By the way, this engine that failed was the one that controlled our air temperatures and circulation. Without it, the cabin became unbearably stuffy and hot.

After five hours of sitting in this plane, we were able to finally take off. Dehydrated and starving, (we hadn't eaten since lunch) we returned back to AZ, drove home, and made it back by 1:30 AM to our house.

And what had we accomplished? Absolutely nothing. We spent the entire day at the airport, and we just ended up back home.

I bought a book while we were in Denver, and I finished it before our flight back even left the ground. That's how ridiculously long this day was.

Were you able to go to Katie's wedding? As you can see, I was struggling with other travel plans that weekend, but it would have been nice to see y'all. I hope your weekend was less pointless than mine.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

A fine crumb


Why baking bread is similar to knitting:

it's a tactile, hands-on process
smells wonderful
often involves following a recipe
you want to show everyone your finished product

Why baking bread is not similar to knitting:

you can eat bread
you can wear knitting

This is my sourdough starter. It is over 250 years old.

Plus, it's amazing. I even made waffles out of it.

I hope you're enjoying the holiday. My Easter bunny says hello.

Yes, that's an Easter turd next to her.

Happy knitting and happy baking.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Alpaca Farming


Your are timely as always. I was getting really nervous, because I didn't know when Lock and Load was going to come in the mail. I really think he should change his name, however, to, "My Precious." Because that's how I feel about whatever you send me from those alpacas. Oh my gosh. So lovely. I don't want to spin it or do anything with it, hardly, for fear of ruining it. I love it sooo much. Yummy yummy yummy.

So you slipped in a pamphlet/sheet of paper on alpaca farming in the box, which was perfect, because apparently one of Kris's fellow physics graduate students Brad feels that life may not be treating him well at the moment and that perhaps he may want to step into the wonderful world of alpaca farming. This was not on any suggestion I made. I did not even mention alpacas. Kris just came home and told me that Brad was considering alpaca farming.

Delightfully, I knew I had just the thing, and sent Kris back with the pamphlet that informed Brad about how alpacas might spit on him. I also sent off 3 samples of fiber, the raw clip you newly sent me, the grayish alpaca you'd sent before, and some baby suri alpaca that I'd had in my fiber stash. (And I told Kris to be very careful.)

Apparently Brad was very impressed and took the pamphlet home to his wife. His father may own some 40 acres of land that he's not doing anything with that he'd let Brad use if he wants to. Now he just needs alpacas. And expertise. And time. And food for the alpacas. And everything else to take care of the alpacas.

Maybe a loan.

I've been working on my owl sweater, and while it's been going quickly, I don't know if it's going well or not. I feel like there's this bulge in the back from the way the shaping in done, and no matter what it wouldn't really go away. And so, rather than just knitting until I had to frog it all later and cry, I'm blocking it on the needles at this very moment.

Hopefully this makes the bulge go away. Hopefully. Cross your fingers. Other than that it looks pretty good. Most people in my class think it's a hat.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

I've got a big ball of yarn


Sometimes I've seen these humungo balls of yarn in clothing store window displays for their new fall and winter sweaters. When you usually poke at them, however, they're pretty hollow and lightweight. Most likely, I've always assumed they took a cardboard or a Styrofoam core, or something, and just wrapped the yarn all pretty-like around the core.

This is not that ball of yarn.

This is a single ball from a single hank of Cascade Eco, hand dyed with Jacquard turquoise. All 250 grams and 478 yards of it. I didn't even try to wind this on my ballwinder because I knew it would. Not. Fit. I hand-wound this.

However, after I took that pictures I decided that didn't really express how this ball of yarn was only slightly smaller than the size of my head. So I threw some change next to it that I had nearby. I found an American quarter from my laundry collection, but we've gotten a lot of blog visitors to my scarf pattern recently from all over the world except from Africa. So I put in a Ghanaian 200 Cedis coin as well.

I suppose I can't say we haven't had any one from Africa. We've had a couple people from Egypt, which was really exciting. I love seeing all the new flags, which is how I like to look at it. Estonia, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Brunei, Thailand, Chile, Cuba, Canada, Belgium. I just wanted to say hi!

In non-knitting related items, I've decided to grow a moss garden. I had this container full of dirt leftover from last fall, so I dampened it, collected the moss from outside, and filled the surface.
I've been misting the surface with water multiple times a day to keep it hydrated and get it started ever since last Saturday. I've easily grown moss in my terrariums indoors, but never our in the open air. You can see it's been so moist that tiny little plants have sprouted up in some places.

Meanwhile, outside, the buds on the bush continue to get bigger. I'm waiting for the bush to flower and reveal itself for what kind of bush it truly is! I'm curious to know. But for now I'll content myself with the buds and my indoor moss garden.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

desert legwarmers

Dear A,
Oh! Your pattern is up! I am thinking I might have to use it in the near future. I have some scarf yarn.

And you! You will soon have alpaca fluff, courtesy of my favorite alpaca ranch. This is Lock and Load, the majestic alpaca from whom your fiber came from. (I sent it in the mail today) Doesn't he look friendly? Sometimes he spits.

I took my parents to see the ranch while they were visiting. My dad had quite a long discussion with the owners about alpaca genetics and ovary cycles and things like that. My mom just enjoyed seeing the animals.

The owners of the ranch have invited me to come to shearing day, which is set to happen in April. Plus, they're letting me pick out alpaca fleece from their herd so that I can have yarn made out of the alpaca(s) of my choosing. Amazing! Alpaca!

I need to make a dent in my projects so that I feel justified in getting some more alpaca. It's been slow knitting for me these days, but I did finish some legwarmers.

I can't tell you how fun it was to start knitting with pink yarn. Just the color was enough to motivate me to finish these with haste.

I dyed the yarn so that it would gradually turn pinker and darker as I knit it, although in the future I think I would just dye several different portions of yarn and deal with weaving in the ends. It was fun to knit with though.

And when I was done posing for these pictures I took a bite out of the prickly pear, just like a real javelina would.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Phase Shift

The first time I walked into a yarn shop and saw a reversible cable scarf, I was astounded. How could there be cabling on both sides without an odd side out? The concept is perfect for a scarf, because the cable is formed by a k1, p1 ribbing that looks like stockinette stitch on both sides while providing lofty warmth. The rib continues the entire scarf with a few cable rows to keep things interesting.

A phase is a mathematical term referring to the location of a wave or oscillation, such as sine or cosine. When multiple waves are phase shifted, they look like this scarf. I hope the location of your Phase Shift stays around your neck!

Finished Measurements:
4” x 72”


Knitpicks Panache [40% Baby Alpaca, 20% cashmere, 20% silk, 20% extrafine merino; 68 yd/62m per 50g ball]; 5 balls, shown in Dusk DISCONTINUED

Other Recommended yarn:
Malabrigo Chunky [100% Merino; 104 yd/95m per 100g ball]; 3 skeins
Note: the more solid color varieties will more clearly reveal cabling

Reccomended Needle Size:
1 set US #10/6mm needles

Tapestry Needle
Cable or double pointed needle


14 sts/21 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch

Note: Gauge is not essential for this project.

Front Cross (FC): slip 6 st to dpn and hold on front, (k1,p1) 3 times, then (k1, p1) 3 times from dpn
Back Cross (BC): slip 6 st to dpn and hold in back, (k1, p1) 3 times, then (k1, p1) 3 times from dpn

Cast on 30 st
Rows 1-4: (k1, p1) 15 times
Row 5: (k1, p1) 3 times, FC twice
Rows 6-14: (k1, p1) 15 times
Row 15: BC twice, (k1, p1) 3 times
Rows 16-24: (k1, p1) 15 times

Repeat Rows 5-24 until satisfied with the length of the scarf. End with a cable row, and work 4 more rows in k1, p1 rib. Cast off, weave in ends.

With much thanks to Barbara G. Walker and the Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns for the inspiration for this cable, which comes from the Loose Five-Rib Braid. Thanks also to Karen who both taught me how to knit and graciously tested this pattern.

All text and photography copyright A.S. 2009. For non-commercial use, only.

All questions and comments

Sandwich Gloves


Well, it's either been raining so that I haven't been able to take pictures of the handspun gloves, or Kris has been too busy or at school, or I've been too busy! Life has been colluding against me.

I had, however, earlier managed to take some pictures of my sandwich gloves, quickly named because they fit so smartly I decided I could easily eat a sandwich in them if I wanted to on the way to school. This theory has not been tested yet, and sadly, I don't believe it will this winter, since it's rather warmed up outside to just the need for a jacket. It's a rare glove day.Specs:
Yarn: Knit Picks Bare - Merino Wool Fingering, 1 skein, hand-dyed by yours truly. I believe this was the first yarn I ever hand-dyed. I just never used it until now. Strange, huh. Kool-aid!
Needles: 0
Gauge: 7.5 stitches/inch
Size: 7" hand circumference
Ravelled here.
Plain stockinette st with just a short garter border, letting the colors do all the work.
I'm currently finished up my second pair of these babies in a different color for my sister. She also will not be able to eat sandwiches in them any time soon, but hopefully she likes them.

(By the way, I do hope you enjoy the new format. I decided we needed a change of scenery. Spring inspired me.)

Love ya,

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Charles Freeman is my Hero


You know, at my favourite local yarn shop, Home Ec Workshop, they have empty art frames on the wall with knitting tacked inside them. To put the knitting on display. One might consider this if one lives in a state that is too hot to wear lined aran mittens that are very, very lovely.

Did you knit the laceweight single stranded? Because if so, that's crazy awesome. Even double stranding it Malabrigo laceweight is pretty thin. I'm very impressed.

So I saw that I had a "Message from Charles Freeman" on my google homepage today, sharing the space with my teahouse fox who is, at the moment, playing his pi-pa to the ducks in the pond.

However, it was not the Charles Freeman I know and love, it was some other bloke who apparently is being harrased. (I've got to admit, I didn't read the article beyond realizing that this was a different person.)

However, doesn't this make you miss Charles Freeman, infamous writer of Egypt, Greece, and Rome? So much reading we had to do back our first year of undergraduate education, and I don't honestly know how much I got out of that book. More than others, apparently, because my professor was always impressed my ability to remember detail, but I never really got history. I am cognizant of the need to understand history, but I just can't appreciate it myself, even though I want to.

I guess this post really is purportless, albeit to point to the fact that I was really excited that I thought perhaps Charles Freeman, my hero, had gotten face-time on Google's home page.

"Clearly I needed help."


Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Mitten.

Whoah! We have a new format. And there are giant owl eyes looking at me.

It's been too long since I've posted. But it's also been so long since I've finished a project. It's been a horrible semester for knitting anything. I'm only teaching one lab and only taking one class (obvious diminished knitting time there), and as a result, I have few class papers to read (no easy stockinette/ribbed knitting). Hazel doesn't like this either. She would nudge my feet while I read and try to distract me with her cuteness, so that I couldn't help but pet her instead. Now I read papers on the computer and take notes, and Hazel isn't allowed by our computer, because she eats cords and it's expensive.

Nevertheless, I do have a picture to post. This is probably the most beautiful thing I've knit in a long time. Maybe ever? I don't know. These are pretty amazing mittens. Soft. Warm. Awesome.

I think . . . I think I'm going to gift them. That's most logical, right? I mean, who wears mittens in Arizona. Maybe I'll just wait until next winter to give them away. I mean, I can't give them up just yet. They're too wonderful.

This was definitely at-home knitting, since charts aren't so good to bring into class, but so much fun to knit. I highly recommend the pattern.

Oh! And what a surprise for the hands. A liner: warm malabrigo merino lace. If these mittens were edible, they would taste like warm rhubarb pie.

If I wait long enough, maybe I'll convince myself to keep the mittens. I mean, there WAS snow at the grand canyon. That's AZ. Look how cold we are in this picture! I totally look like I need mittens in this picture.
In fact, we threw snowballs off the grand canyon. Snow! In AZ!

And I almost forgot! It snowed in our town this winter. Once. And I have the picture to prove it.

This is the cow skull in our front "yard" (aka rock garden). Look at the HUGE amount of snow accumulation on his antlers! I totally need these mittens for myself. I'm getting cold just thinking about our harsh winters here.

I mean, I have some mittens here now, but they don't have liners in them. And what if it snows again?! My hands could be mildly uncomfortable in the semi-cold climate.

I'll have to think about this. At any rate, I'm not giving these mittens up just yet. They were too much fun to knit, and are too much fun to wear to get rid of them immediately. We'll wait a few months and then see what happens. I just need to have some time to get over my mitten-separation anxiety.